“Hello? Paul? George? Is someone there?”
George stood frozen as Ringo pounded on the door of Paul’s flat. Ringo was there? And he was looking for him?
“Fuck—please? Anyone?” Ringo’s cries grew more desperate as George and Paul shared a look.
Then, once George had nervously nodded his approval, Paul went to open the door. “What?” Paul snapped.
Ringo, who had large bags under his eyes, glanced at Paul before his eyes began darting around the flat. “Paul, thank god. Have you seen…” He trailed off when his eyes landed on George. “George! Oh my god, you’re alright.”
Ringo rushed past Paul and approached George, who took a small step backward. Despite the way George’s heart leapt at the sight of his crush, seeing Ringo brought the painful memories of their last conversation back in full force.
“George—when you disappeared last night—I was so scared,” Ringo rambled, his eyes wide. “—But you’re okay—thank god, you’re okay—I need to talk to you.”
Just before Ringo could take another step toward George, Paul stepped between them. “Talk to him about what?” Paul asked, crossing his arms.
“It’s just some stuff,” Ringo said, trying to make his way to George, but Paul didn’t budge. “Please, Paul, this is important.”
“What kind of important? The kind of important where you shout at your best friend for no bloody reason?”
Ringo was taken aback. He looked between Paul—who kept staring straight at Ringo—and George—who pointedly kept staring anywhere but at Ringo. “George, you told him?” Ringo whispered.
George nodded and continued looking at the ground. “Yeah. Paul knows everything.”
Wincing, Ringo started fidgeting with his rings. Then he tried again. “Paul, I know why you’re upset with me—I was an arse. But I didn’t spend the last hour looking all around town for George just so I could be an arse again. Please, can I just talk to him?”
An hour? Ringo had looked for him for an hour? George couldn’t suppress the tiny glimmer of joy that shot through his body at that revelation. Ringo may not return his feelings, but he still cared—he didn’t hate him after all.
Paul turned back to face George, and George nodded. “I wanna talk to him, too,” George said.
After taking a deep sigh, Paul relented. “Fine. You can use my bedroom for privacy. But if I hear you yelling at him again, Ringo, I’m kicking you out on your arse.”
Ringo laughed softly while George rolled his eyes. George appreciated Paul looking out for him, but he wasn’t a child. He could take care of himself just fine…well, maybe not so much last night, but that was different—he had been drunk.
Pushing those thoughts from his mind, George made his way back to Paul’s room with Ringo following close behind. George’s heart sped up in anticipation of what was to come. More than anything, George just wanted to give Ringo a proper apology for lying to him. Even if Ringo would never see him as more than a friend, George needed Ringo to believe that he could be trusted—he had never wanted to make Ringo think that he would hurt him.
Ringo sat on the bed first, and George joined him, making sure to leave a bit of extra space between them to avoid making Ringo too uncomfortable. The silence was crushing, and George needed to escape it. “Ritchie, look—I’m so sorry that I—”
“Can I talk first?” Ringo’s interruption was firm, but not harsh. “Last night you talked while I sat back and listened. Today, can you listen?” Ringo sighed and clasped his hands. “I have lots of things I need to say.”
George bit his lip. “Alright.” Hopefully surviving the events of the previous night had hardened George up enough that the heartbreak would hurt less the second time around.
Ringo placed his hands solidly on the side of the bed and looked down at his lap. Then he turned his head toward George. “I’m so sorry about the way I acted last night,” Ringo began. “I was just mad, and surprised and confused—but that doesn’t make it okay that I yelled at you like that. You were usin’ all your courage to open up to me, and I just spat right in your face.”
“—But you were right—I shouldn’t have lied,” George blurted.
“That doesn’t matter,” Ringo said, scooting closer to George. “Well, it matters a little—I’m…still not particularly happy about the lying—but I get it,” Ringo said. “Or, at least, I want to get it.” Ringo moved his hand to rest right next to George’s thigh. “George, I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for you, to hide something so important about yourself from so many people for all that time. It must have been fucking awful.”
Lowering his eyes for a moment, George nodded. “It is,” he whispered.
Ringo’s hand lifted off the bed and inched closer to George, froze for a second, then returned to the bed. “In the hotel that first night, when you slipped up and told me that you liked a bloke, you looked so scared,” Ringo said. “And I tried to show you that I’d never stop caring about you, no matter what—and I thought you understood that. So to find out that you were still scared to talk to me about something…it hurt. We’ve always been so close, Georgie, and finding out that you were lying—it felt like I must have done something wrong to keep you scared of telling me, or maybe that we weren’t as close as I’d thought.
“But I was thinkin’ about it all wrong,” Ringo said. “I was forgetting about your feelings—of course you’d be scared to talk about that—especially since…you know….” Ringo cleared his throat and brushed his hair off of his face. “You…you really…it’s me?” Ringo asked quietly. “It was me the whole time?”
“Of course it’s you,” George whispered. “I don’t know how anyone in the world—man or woman—could resist falling for you. You’re spectacular, Ritchie.”
Their eyes met, and George wanted nothing more than to grab Ringo’s face and kiss him. “B-but I don’t mind if you don’t feel the same way—I really don’t,” George added. “You’re right—I’ve always felt that the two of us were close too, and I don’t wanna lose that. You’re the best friend I’ve ever had, and if friendship is all you want, then friendship would make me so happy.”
“You’re never gonna lose my friendship, George—not in a million years,” Ringo said, smiling. “As for whether I want more than friendship…”
This was it. George would finally, really get an answer.
“I…,” Ringo began shakily. “…What if I’m not sure yet?”
George’s heart began to sink. “Ritchie, you don’t have to protect my feelings—if you don’t fancy me, just tell me.”
“What?—No, I didn’t mean that,” Ringo said, reaching out and placing his hand on top of George’s. “I’m really not sure,” Ringo repeated as he stared down at their hands. “I’ve been…I’ve been thinking, during the past few weeks….” He trailed off and started tracing around the back of George’s hand with his fingertip.
George could barely breathe. He still wasn’t sure what Ringo was trying to tell him, but the way Ringo was touching his hand felt like a dream.
Ringo took a deep breath and tried again. “When I was growin’ up, I never thought about being queer, ‘cause, you know, it just wasn’t something you thought about—well, I guess you probably thought about it—whatever, that’s not the point,” he muttered, shaking his head.
“After you told me about yourself,” Ringo said, “I started thinkin’ about what it would be like to be queer—trying to put myself in your shoes. And thought it was gonna feel really odd, but it didn’t feel odd like I thought it would. Then I started talking you up to Paul, saying all those great things about you—and it was so easy to talk about you, George, because you’re just that amazing. And the more I talked about you, the more natural it got, and…I dunno…my mind started wandering more, and…it’s all really confusing…”
As Ringo kept trying to figure out how to say what he wanted to say, George stared at him in shock. Was it really possible that Ringo might feel the same way?
“…But,” Ringo said, “I’m not sure I can give you what you want, George. If you really care about me as much as you said you do, then you probably want some big, intense relationship right now, and I don’t think I can commit to that.”
“I don’t need that,” George interrupted. “I don’t need to jump right into a relationship if that’s not what you want… What do you want?”
Ringo laughed nervously. “I don’t know. I don’t fucking know. God, I sound crazy—”
“No, you don’t.”
“Well, I feel crazy,” Ringo said. He wrapped his hand around George’s and squeezed. “I want to figure out what I’m feeling for you—I’m not sure what it is exactly, but it feels strong. But I don’t know how long it’ll take for me to figure it out, and I don’t wanna string you along if my feelings turn out to be nothing.”
George looked at their clasped hands. “Does it feel like nothing to you?”
“…No. It feels like something. Something very good,” Ringo said.
With his lips slowly spreading into a smile, George laughed. “I can work with that,” he said. “We could take things slow—if, you know, if you want to do this. Do you?”
Ringo smiled back. “I do.”
George had never heard words more beautiful than those two. “Oh my god, Ritchie,” he whispered, more to himself than to Ringo. “Anything we do, you can set the pace,” George said excitedly. “We’ll take this as fast or slow as you want—whatever you want.”
Laughing, Ringo brushed the back of his hand across George’s cheek. “That’s awfully generous of you to offer me ‘whatever I want,’ but you better not ignore the things you want,” Ringo said.
“You know what I mean,” George said, feeling his cheek heat up beneath Ringo’s fingers.
As he watched George, Ringo’s expression changed—it softened. George thought he saw something else in Ringo’s eyes, something bigger that he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
“There is one thing I know that I want,” Ringo said.
“What’s that?” George asked.
Ringo’s eyes flickered downward. “I want to know what it feels like to kiss you.”
George’s breath caught in his throat. “You—you what?”
“I wanna kiss you,” Ringo repeated. His cheeks darkening, he shrugged and added, “Just think it might feel nice, is all.”
George sure as hell couldn’t disagree with that. “Alright then,” he said, sounding much calmer than he felt. He was about to get the kiss he had dreamed about for months—it was too good to be true. But, as Ringo shifted his weight around and leaned in a few centimeters closer, George knew that this moment was very, very real.
Ringo’s movements slowed when their noses were about to touch. Was he changing his mind? But Ringo didn’t pull back—he waited, his face hovering just in front of George’s….He was nervous. The idea of kissing George was making Ringo Starr nervous and flustered, and George had no idea how his entire life had led to this surreal point.
Their breaths mingled together as their faces remained frozen in place. Ringo still wasn’t showing any signs of moving. If Ringo wasn’t going to do it, so be it—George would just have to do it himself.
George raised his hand and placed it on the back of Ringo’s neck. Then, gently, he pulled Ringo forward and kissed him.
As soon as their lips met, Ringo sprung back to life. He gasped against George’s mouth and wrapped an arm around George’s back, pulling him closer.
George was in absolute bliss. He was kissing Ringo. He was kissing Ringo. Ringo’s lips were slightly chapped and his stubble scratched at George’s face—it was the best feeling in the world. And Ringo’s hand was rubbing across his lower back, and George’s shirt had ridden up, and Ringo’s little finger had slipped below the bottom edge of George’s shirt and pressed against his skin, and Ringo was still kissing him.
Both of George’s hands came up to Ringo’s cheeks, cradling his perfect face as George’s placed one more small kiss on Ringo’s lips. George’s eyes opened as he leaned backward, taking in the beautiful sight of Ringo’s flushed face and deep red lips. He slid his hands off of Ringo’s face and down his arms to finally clasp Ringo’s hands.
“Oh my god,” Ringo whispered as he blinked his eyes open and looked at George. Then he smiled, and George had never seen him look more radiant than he did in that moment.
“Oh my god,” George echoed, matching Ringo’s smile. George felt like he already knew the answer to the question, but he still needed to ask: “How did that feel?”
Ringo just laughed and kissed him again.
Ten minutes later, George and Ringo emerged from the bedroom and made their way back to Paul’s kitchen. When he caught sight of them, Paul shot up from his chair. “Well…?” he asked, waiting.
George looked to Ringo, waiting for him to answer. Ringo just smiled and entwined his fingers with George’s.
Slowly, the corners of Paul’s mouth curved upward, and he rushed forward to pull them both into a hug. “It took you kids long enough.”